Monday, July 25, 2016

The enthusiasm gap

Last Friday (7/22), Trump and Hillary both posted shareable graphics for facebook users to showcase who they're voting for in November. As of Monday (7/29) at 9pm, this is what they showed:


Trump's photo has been liked and shared by over 50% more people than Hillary's has been even though Hillary's specifically asks users to share the photo while Trump's does not.

This doesn't show up in polls* or polls-plus forecasts, though, so Nate Silver should just keep ignoring indicators like these. The endorsements of the political class, a group despised by the electorate, is a better measure!

Speaking of Silver, how dopey does he look for pairing the launch of his 2016 general election model with the headline "Trump Has A 20 Percent Chance Of Becoming President"? The release date was arbitrary. If he'd put it out several weeks earlier, when Trump was marginally ahead in the RCP average--as he is again today--he wouldn't have been able to dress up yet another punditry prediction of Trump's impending downfall in quantitative clothing.

As of today, Silver's model shows Hillary with a 54% chance of winning to Trump's 46%. Oops.

* Most poll samples are created by mirroring demographic population profiles or by using turnout from previous election cycles to estimate turnout for the election in question, and most of these are conducted on registered voters. But "likely voters" is a stronger predictor of the actual behavioral intentions of potential voters. These "likely voters" polls have consistently shown Trump doing several points better than "registered voters" polls do.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Trump bump

We've spent some time looking at the bizarrely skewed Reuters-Ipsos general election polling that has, over the last couple of months, included survey samples that are often more than 50% self-identified Democrats, about one-third Republican, and the residual being independents or third-party backers.

The latest R-I poll is a staggering 56% Democrat, 39% Republican, and 5% other. Despite an almost 20 point advantage in partisan affiliation, though, Hillary is beating Trump by just a hair, 41%-38%. In this latest iteration, which runs from July 18-22, Trump is getting 9% of Democrat support while Hillary is getting 8% of Republican support.

The last time Trump was this close to Hillary in R-I the sample was much more evenly distributed by partisan affiliation, at 45% Democrat and 42% Republican. If current polling included the same partisan distribution now as it did back in May it would show Trump crushing Hillary by something like 43%-32%.

Caveats about convention bounces should be taken into account, of course. That said, things are looking good for the Trump train.

Agnostics more intelligent, trusting than atheists

In a post last month, Vox Day made a couple of assertions: 1) Agnostics are more intelligent than atheists, and 2) Atheists don't trust other people because they're projecting their own lack of integrity onto others.

I've looked at the first issue before and recall the ordering, from most to least intelligent, going agnostic-atheist-uncertain believer-firm believer, but am not able to find the relevant post, so we'll recreate it here by tapping old faithful, the GSS.

For contemporary relevance, all responses are from 2000 onward. To avoid racial confounding only whites are considered and to avoid language fluency issues only those born in the US are considered. Mean IQ, as converted from wordsum scores assuming a white mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, by belief in God (n = 4,734):

On GodIQ
Agnostic105.3
Atheist103.6
Uncertain believer100.8
Firm believer98.4

Parenthetically, "firm believers" make up more than half of the respondent pool, which is why the results appear at first blush to skew above an average of 100.

Without passing comment on the speculative reasons why it might be the case, the second assertion can be evaluated by looking at dichotomous responses to the question, "Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in life?" Using the same parameters as above, the percentages who say that most people can be trusted, by belief in God (n = 5,294):

On God%Trust
Agnostic48.5
Atheist43.1
Uncertain believer40.9
Firm believer38.4

If being trusting of others is considered desirable, the ordering runs the same as it does for intelligence. Agnostics are more trusting and more intelligent than atheists, but atheists are more trusting and intelligent than theists (as gauged by the metrics employed here, anyway).

By definition using natural methods to discern, discover, or comprehend aspects of the supernatural are likely to come up short. Some people interpret things as being revelatory, and many more benefit from--and realize that society benefits from--the aspects of unity and teleology derived from trying to make sense of the supernatural. I don't get much out of that myself and find that stoicism applied to the 21st century works better for me, but everyone's mileage will vary. Find what gets you the farthest and ride it.

GSS variables used: YEAR(2000-2014), GOD(1)(2)(3-5)(6), BORN(1), WORDSUM, RACECEN1(1), TRUST(1-2)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Corpulent knuckleheads

In his signature style, Milo Yiannopoulos noted in his July 15 podcast that "fat people are stupider than the rest of us". The study his remark was based on used detailed brain imaging to obtain its results from a modest sample of 32 people. It found fat people to be less intelligent and more impulsive than non-fat people .

The GSS offers a cruder and less precise way of looking at the same thing, though our sample is 20x as large.

The following table shows average IQ estimates (converted from wordsum scores and assuming a white average of 100 and a standard deviation of 15) for female respondents whose weights were deemed either "below average", "average", "somewhat above average", or "considerably above average". Those who conducted the interviews were the ones who assigned respondents to one of the four weight categories.  To avoid language fluency confounds only survey respondents born in the US are included (n = 616):

HeftIQ
Below average100.5
Average100.3
Somewhat above99.1
Considerably above94.8

Another stereotype validated.

Fat and stupid, yes. But famous, too!

GSS variables used: INTRWGHT, SEX(2), BORN(1), WORDSUM

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cruz kills himself

When Ted Cruz melted down in the face of impending disaster for his campaign in Indiana, I thought it would render a future run exceedingly difficult for him if Trump ended up joining the Republican party pantheon alongside Reagan and Lincoln. If referring to oneself as a "Trump Republican" became comparable to what "Reagan conservative" or "the party of Lincoln" had been prior to this election cycle, the following clip would be the kill shot every one of Cruz's primary opponents would effortlessly dispatch him with:



This was of course dwarfed by his convention speech. It's hard not to chalk this political self-immolation up to anything other than pathological vindictiveness. The much savvier approach would've been to publicly but tepidly endorse Trump and then work behind the scenes to sabotage him. Or better yet, to reconcile. Trump has a Caesarian disposition when it comes to clemency as Trump's invitation for Cruz to speak in prime time on the second to last night demonstrated. But once he's betrayed, Trump doesn't forget.

Consider the political implications. If Trump loses in November, especially if it's within five points or so, Cruz is going to get a lot of the blame. It's not only firm Trump supporters who will blame Cruz's betrayal for the loss. Most Republican voters, including those lukewarm to Trump, will hold Cruz responsible for Hillary being elected.

Is Cruz delusional enough to think that he'll be the nominee in 2020 with the Republican electorate and all his GOP opponents justifiably pointing to him as the primary reason Hillary got her first term?

It'd be far-fetched enough if the quisling was someone like Kasich or ¡Jabe!. At least those guys could conceivably find some establishment support.

Cruz, though, had more supporter overlap with Trump than any other candidate in the field of 17. He was vying for the same anti-Establishment designation that Trump was. Cruz was acutely aware of this. It's why he alone among primary contestants refused to go after the god-emperor in the first few debates.

The vast majority of primary participants who voted for Cruz in the primaries will be voting for Trump in a few months. He's sabotaging their political aspirations--and the well-being of the country if the party platform is taken seriously--for a modestly better chance that the next Republican presidential primary is in 2020 instead of 2024 and also for a drastically decreased chance that he'll win the nomination if a 2020 primary takes place. This stunningly selfish act of treachery will be, courtesy of social media and Youtube, there for the world to see and remember.

Cruz, aged only 45, rapidly made his way through the cursus honorum. There were many consulships on his horizon. He would've been in a strong position to be Trump's VP. The two led a joint rally together and had been publicly affable towards one another in the debates and other media. In his early fifties at the end of Trump's second term, the 2024 Republican nomination would've been his for the taking.

That's all gone now. If he's done anything, it's united the party against himself, not against Trump.

Varus knew what to do here, Ted.